How To Solder More Successfully
- Use the least amount of solder needed to make a good joint.
- Do not flood the joint with solder.
- Pieces to be soldered should fit tightly together with no air space in between.
- Make sure the joint and the solder are clean.
- Prior to soldering, flux all surfaces well to prevent oxidation, which can inhibit solder flow.
Follow these steps to ensure strong, long-lasting joint.
Solder won’t flow on a dirty or greasy surface. Use a de-greasing detergent cleaner and an abrasive pad, or an abrasive such as pumice powder to remove dirt or grease from the metal being soldered. Rinse thoroughly after cleaning.
Components, findings and joints must fit tightly together. Gaps in joints and poorly matched junctures between parts create a poor solder joint, which could result in pitting of the solder or in a weak joint that could break. Occasionally, solder simply will not fill a poor-fitting area.
Flux prepares the metal surface to receive the fluid solder. When applying flux, make sure it is in contact with the solder at all times and that it touches both metal parts being joined. Some self-pickling fluxes also help dissolve oxides. Keeping the joint oxide-free is important for creating the ideal soldering surface.
Use either a neutral flame (equal parts oxygen and gas) or a reducing flame (more gas than oxygen). The metal adjacent to the joint must reach the necessary temperature before solder will flow. First concentrate the heat on the surrounding surface, then on the joint to be soldered. Remember, solder flows to the hottest part of the surface and toward the flame.
After soldering, use a mild acid pickle to clean nonferrous metals. This removes oxides and other soldering residues prior to finishing. When storing solders, keep them free from dirt and grease. Sheet solders may be cleaned to remove dirt or residue.
How To Differentiate Wire Solders
Knowing how to tell your wire solder from the variety of other wire on your bench will prevent accidentally mistaking one for the other and save the cost of redoing work or replacing materials when those mistakes are made.
- Hammer one end of your wire solder, or color the end with a permanent marker for quick, easy identification.
- Keep wire solder in a separate container from other wire you're using.